I taught 1st and 2nd grade for 12 years. During that time I worked for 2 abusive principals and 2 wonderful principals. I have to say that I love teaching but came to the conclusion that I did not love being a teacher and I think the two are very VERY different things. Depression hit me hard during my 8th year of teaching. The thing about teaching is that as a teacher you are never allowed to do for your own children what you are expected to do for other people's children. There is so much coming down on teachers that most people have no idea about. The stress is incredible and most people think that we get so much time off. What a crock that is. I don't know any teachers who aren't in school every break they have and we have to pay for it ourselves. I don't know any teachers that don't take work home with them or work weekends to get everything in. I also don't know any teachers that even after 25 years know if they are doing it "right". You never can reach all kids because the needs of all kids are so varied. It is the kids that you don't reach that haunt us all. Districts think that throwing money at the problem is the answer but it isn't. They have to humanize the entire profession and really care about teachers before anything will get better. It always shocked me to pieces that a place like a school, that should be the most loving and compassionate place on earth, was a place where principals backstabbed and had their own adgendas, parents with no educational training stabbed teachers in the back and administrations that have been too far removed from the classroom have no idea what kids and teachers need.
I was in a school district where I was new to the district. The year started off with a teacher's strike. I had a wonderful year and everyone expected me to be offered a continuing contract but then the district cut their budget and did not convert any new contracts. The state cut the education budget which meant that teachers all over the state were laid off. One district near us laid off 178 teachers. The employment section of their webpage said not to even apply if you weren't one of the 178. I had two kids headed for college. I was a really good teacher and it didn't make any difference. Even with a degree and a master's degree I couldn't find a job. There were no teacher jobs to be had. I made the decision to effect a mid-life career change. Now I am doing Office Management work and studying to get my project management degree. Dang, I'm still in school!!
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss teaching. I never EVER miss being a teacher. My life is so much less stressful, I make more money than I ever did as a teacher and I can leave the job at the office when I come home. It was a difficult decision to make. I think good teachers are selfless people by nature but sometimes you have to make decisions that are best for you. Now I do volunteer work to make sure that I am giving back to my community. I saved all of my reading instruction materials and hope to get into adult literacy work someday.
Funny Story - At one time in an effort to feel more warm and fuzzy, the district that I was in offered some stress management classes for their employees. A fabulous kindergarten teacher who was a single mom signed up for the classes. After she had missed several classes the teacher called her to ask why she wasn't coming. My friend said that trying to get to the stress management class caused her more stress so she stopped going.
I love that story. It is teaching in a nutshell. Teachers are stressed and in a brilliant but totally clueless move, the administration heaped something else on her plate.
I wish I had words of wisdom for you. Know that I understand completely and I am here to listen.
Walk in harmony